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Mause I 51f
Economy/Neo-Classicism: Political economy is being replaced by "pure" economy in the form of Neo-Classicism. This is called the "marginalist" revolution.
1) All economic issues are considered from the point of view of optimization under constraints. It is always a matter of optimizing an objective function (e.g. the utility function of a budget) under consideration of certain constraints (e.g. the amount of the household budget) (in the example case to maximize). For this purpose, a marginal value analysis is carried out, i.e. a marginal analysis. (> Rational Choice).
2) The neoclassical analysis focuses on equilibrium - a situation in which there is no reason to change behaviour. Of central importance here is the question of the existence of market equilibria and their characteristics.
3) The principle of methodological individualism applies, according to which all economic phenomena must be explained by individual actions. This implies in particular that society is merely a sum of individuals and that their preferences are independent of each other.
I 52
Main representatives: Antoine Augustin Cournot (1801-1877), who established the foundation of price theory (Cournot 1838 (1); Hermann Heinrich Gossen (1810-1858), who founded consumer theory (Gossen 1854) (2); and Johann Heinrich von Thünen (1783-1850), who laid the foundations of production and distribution theory (Thünen 1826) (3). In the following period, these approaches were further developed and implemented by William Stanley Jevons (1835-1882) and Léon Walras (1834-1910) (Jevons 1871) (4); Walras 1874/ 1877) (5).
NeoclassicismVsClassic: all three basic components of the neoclassical paradigm are foreign to classic: this is most evident in the case of the optimization and equilibrium principle; but the classics also did not represent strict methodological individualism, but recognized the social nature of human beings and
therefore considered the analytical use of supra-individual concepts to be justified (without therefore conceding this one real existence independent of individuals). The neoclassicists were always striving for a "scientificization" of economics, for the establishment of their discipline as one of the natural sciences, and here above all physics. (optimization, balance).
Classic: considers economic action, i.e. the emergence and distribution of material wealth.
Neoclassicism: this analysis is not compatible with the new formal understanding.
The neoclassical economy is microeconomic, i.e. the analysis focuses on the behaviour of individual economic entities, i.e. individual households (consumption theory) and companies (production and price theory).


1. A. Cournot, Recherches sur les Principes Mathématiques de la Théorie des Richesses. Paris, 1838.
2. H.H.Gossen, Entwickelung der Gesetze des menschlichen Verkehrs, und der daraus fließenden Regeln für menschliches Handeln. Braunschweig 1854
3. J.H. von Thünen, Der isolirte Staat in Beziehung auf Landwirthschaft und Nationalökonomie. Hamburg 1826
4. W.St.Jevons, 1871. The theory of political economy. London 1871
5. L. Walras, Eléments d’Economie Politique Pure. Teile I– III (1874), Teile IV– VI (1877). Lausanne 1874/ 1877.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Neoclassical Economics
Mause I
Karsten Mause
Christian Müller
Klaus Schubert,
Politik und Wirtschaft: Ein integratives Kompendium Wiesbaden 2018


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